Countdown to MDF X: (14) Rwake

Rwake sounds like the sweet phrase you might  mumble to your lover early in the morning, meaning something like, “Are you awake?” Rwake the sludge band from Arkansas, makes the R silent, and simply says it “wake.”  But this group is anything but silent, sounding more like a massive behemoth trudging through the swampy backwoods of a forgotten landscape destroying everything in its path. And that’s a good thing.

Conceived in 1996, this six piece orchestra of doom includes Jeff Morgan on drums, B. running the moog/vocals/samples,  Kiffin Rogers on guitar, C.T. on vocals, Gravy on guitar, and John-Judkins on bass. There are elements of  Rwake that remind me of Amebix, of Mastodon,  of the Allman Brothers Band, and of nothing I have ever heard before. There is something twangy and definitely Southern about their groove, though I can’t quite put my finger on it.  Maybe it is just the pace. They don’t seem like they are in a rush to get a song over with, but more likely to enjoy playing around the riff for a while.

This group writes progressive, complex and meditative music. Newer 11-minute missives like “It was Beautiful but Now it is Sour,” rise to desperate crescendos and then descend into depths of despair. Earlier recordings like “The Cat and the Snake” tread more within the confines of traditional doom with buzzing distortion and a heavy plodding beat. Lyrically, they remain philosophical and apocalyptic.

Rwake perfoms at the 2012 Maryland Deathfest on Sunday afternoon, May 27.

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